( b. Mar 28, 1912 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. Aug 31, 2000 Langhorne, Pennsylvania, USA ) Female
Lucille Fletcher, who transfixed a national audience with her radio drama ''Sorry, Wrong Number'' on CBS's ''Suspense'' in 1943, died on Thursday in Langhorne, Pa. She was 88 and lived in Oxford, Md.
Besides her radio plays, Lucille Fletcher was the author of novels, stage plays and screenplays, but she was best known for ''Sorry, Wrong Number,'' a 22-minute thriller first broadcast on May 25, 1943.
It concerns Leona Stevenson, a bedridden neurotic who, thanks to a crossed telephone wire, overhears two men plotting a woman's murder. After making fruitless calls to the police, she discovers that the intended victim is herself.
The drama, starring Agnes Moorehead in a virtual monologue with sound effects, proved so popular that it was broadcast nationally seven times from 1943 to 1948 and was ultimately translated into 15 languages, including Zulu.
In 1948 Miss Fletcher adapted it for a film that starred Barbara Stanwyck, whose performance earned an Academy Award nomination. ''Sorry, Wrong Number'' also won an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America, inspired two operas and was remade for cable television in 1989 with Loni Anderson.
Miss Fletcher's more than 20 radio plays also included ''Hitchhiker,'' an eerie drama about a man who keeps seeing the same hitchhiker as he drives to California. Orson Welles starred as the driver, and the haunting score was written by Bernard Herrmann, Miss Fletcher's first husband, best known for his score for Alfred Hitchcock's ''Psycho.''
In the late 1950's Miss Fletcher began writing novels. ''Blindfold,'' in which a psychoanalyst is virtually kidnapped by the government to treat a nuclear physicist in such secrecy that he is not allowed to see his patient or hear any identifiable details of his life, was made into a 1966 film that starred Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale. Among Miss Fletcher's other novels were ''And Presumed Dead,'' ''The Strange Blue Yawl,'' ''The Girl in Cabin B54'' and ''Eighty Dollars to Stamford.''
In 1972 Joan Hackett and Len Cariou starred on Broadway in Miss Fletcher's ''Night Watch,'' about a New York heiress who has witnessed a murder but cannot prove it. In The New York Times the critic Clive Barnes called ''Night Watch'' a superior thriller, ''which from its first blood-curdling scream to its last charming surprise is a first-class example of its genre.'' In 1973 it was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Harvey.
Miss Fletcher, who was born in Brooklyn in 1912, wanted to be a writer from childhood. In 1933 she graduated from Vassar College, where she was a fierce, friendly competitor for literary prizes with her classmate Mary McCarthy.
Employed by CBS in the depths of the Depression, she was a typist, music librarian and publicity writer. While typing radio plays, she decided she could master the form.
In 1939 she married Mr. Herrmann. His biographer, Steven C. Smith, said that the idea for ''Hitchhiker'' came to her when the couple was traveling in their 1940 Packard convertible to Hollywood and Miss Fletcher spotted an odd-looking man on the Brooklyn Bridge and again on the Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey. A year later, she said, ''I conceived of doing it as a ghost story.''
Miss Fletcher's marriage to Mr. Herrmann, with whom she had two daughters, ended in divorce in 1948.
In 1949 she married John Douglass Wallop, a novelist who’s ''Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant'' was adapted into the 1955 musical ''Damn Yankees.'' He died in 1985.
In 1988 William Morrow published Miss Fletcher's last novel, ''Mirror Image,'' a tale of terror and illusion.
Lucille Fletcher died on August 31st, 2000 in Langhorne, Pa. She was 88 and lived in Oxford, Md.
Source: NY Times Obituary